Date: December 31, 2006
About: Bruce Marshall - Class of 1965
Quincy Native Writes Book About Cleveland
Quincy native Bruce T. Marshall is a freelance writer who likes to work "outside the box," and his recent book, "Shaker Heights," is a good example.
Arcadia Publishing has released the book as part of its "Images in America"
Marshall, who has lived in Ohio since 1992, sees the book series as an opportunity for people to understand and appreciate the society and the accomplishments of those who invested in and helped form the cities we know today.
Shaker Heights, Ohio, in the Cleveland area, was a colony of North Union Shakers, the earliest of which were known for their sparse furnishings and straightforward principles. Their generous landholdings eventually gave way to industrial development, and the vision of a city plan was developed by brothers Mantis and Otis Van Sweringen. The suburb is known for its excellent school system, cultural opportunities and citizen involvement.
"Shaker Heights" has recently been on the bestseller lists of the large bookstores in the Cleveland area.
Marshall graduated from Quincy High School in 1965 and went to Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. He went on to earn a doctorate in religious studies and was a parish minister for 20 years, serving in three states.
His writing career has included museum exhibition texts, travel and history books and articles and audio tour scripts.
"While I was with the church, I wrote about spirituality. Now it's history," Marshall said during a recent visit with his parents, Floyd and Frieda Marshall, in Quincy.
He credits his experiences in Quincy for the appreciation he has come to have for history.
"Growing up in Quincy, I absorbed a strong sense of history. The appreciation for local history came with me," he said.
Marshall is certain that this guiding value has immensely impacted his life and work. "To know the earliest history of a place and to be able to track it to its most recent developmental stage is remarkable," he said.
Although Quincy and Shaker Heights are cities that are quite different, Marshall sees parallels.
"There is a respect for the fundamentals that built them," he said.
This passion to know the past has been instrumental in building another project, the Open Road Series. The idea was hatched while riding on the Interstate.
"My wife and I would see a road sign that simply identified the name of a place, sometimes a place we could not even see from the highway," Marshall said. "We wondered what shaped the land like this, who first settled this land, how was this place named?"
The Open Road Series explains local history in an audio format, intended to accompany travelers as they venture through the areas described.
This "Museum of the Open Road" is expanding, and will soon include areas beyond Ohio. It is a collaborative effort between Marshall and his wife, Amy Dibner.
"As an architect and a member of the Architectural Board of Review in Shaker Heights, Amy is also extremely interested in the area's history,"
Marshall credits the success he has had to his ability to listen.
"I listen to what the people want to tell me," he said. "It provides the depth. The perspective of the residents is important. As a writer, all I know is what they tell me."